Amidst the ongoing debate surrounding proposed qualifications for residential property professionals, there’s a crucial perspective to consider. While the necessity of general higher education certification for estate and letting agents  remains contentious, let’s shift our focus to the tangible advantages that industry specific training and qualifications offer. But first, we look at a common misconception!

“All letting agents must be qualified”

Many people believe that letting agents must have certain qualifications to be permitted to work in the industry, but this is not the case! Let’s look at the situation in each of the four nations of the UK:

England and Northern Ireland

Currently, there is no legal requirement for letting agents in England or Northern Ireland to have qualifications, meaning anyone can set up as a letting agent without any prior knowledge or experience of the industry.


Every letting agent in Scotland must be registered on the Scottish Letting Agent Register and follow a Letting Code of Practice (this also applies to agents based outside Scotland who carry out letting agency work within Scotland). In addition, the person holding the most senior position in a letting agency, who is involved with the day-to-day running of letting agency work, must have a relevant qualification and ensure those qualifications remain current. Read more here.


In Wales, all landlords and agents who undertake letting and management work for rental properties are legally required to have a Rent Smart Wales License and follow a Code of Practice. Before submitting a license application, all staff members involved with letting and management activities must complete approved Rent Smart Wales training. They must then undertake ongoing CPD (Continuing Professional Development).

Additional agency requirements

In addition to the above, agencies in England and Wales must also have PI (Professional Indemnity) Insurance, CMP (Client Money Protection), and be members of an approved redress scheme. Agents working in Scotland must also have PI Insurance and CMP, however, there is no legal requirement for agencies to join a redress scheme – unless the business also deals with property sales. In Northern Ireland there is currently no letting agent regulation and no legal requirement to join a redress scheme or have either CMP or PI Insurance.

So, why bother with qualifications?

While there may be no legal requirement to obtain industry qualifications, they serve as a potent tool for both individual agents and agencies to distinguish themselves in a fiercely competitive market.

Relying solely on the promise of “excellent customer service” falls short—after all, this should be a standard expectation for all agents. To truly stand out, agents must showcase their expertise, knowledge, and understanding of the industry. They can effectively communicate and demonstrate these skills by highlighting their qualifications.

businessman shrugging - why bother
Industry training is not just about winning business though; the recent Property Redress Scheme (PRS) 2023 Annual Report highlighted a steep increase in financial awards as a result of an increasing number of complaints.

The question is, could complaints be limited if more agents undertook training and held industry qualifications?

Do your staff need more training?

When a landlord employs your services they are trusting that you will do the job to a high standard, keep them compliant with the law, and treat their tenants professionally and fairly.

There are countless laws surrounding the management and letting of property, and those laws are regularly amended, sometimes changing multiple times during a single year!

Sadly, as previously mentioned, the PRS (Property Redress Scheme) report for 2023 shows an increasing number of complaints about agents. The total awarded by the PRS in 2023 was £1,312,488, compared to ‘only’ £489,916 in 2022. (this includes lettings, sales, and management) and the top three complaints for lettings were:

  • Holding deposits
  • Poor service and management
  • Tenancy payments and rent collection

This is in addition to awards made by The Property Ombudsman (TPO) for which figures are yet to be released, and those imposed by Trading Standards. Also interesting in the PRS report were some of the findings of a survey of nearly 3000 landlords and agents. The areas landlords struggled with the most were the end of tenancy process and complying with legislation. Agents echoed this and over 50% said their biggest challenge was legislation. So, it’s likely that staff in many letting agencies do indeed require more comprehensive training. Obtaining industry qualifications is also advantageous to individuals’ career progression, and agency bosses who support the development of their staff are more likely to keep them.

What makes a reputable letting agent?

A reputable letting agent will usually be a member of a recognised professional industry body. The majority of these require letting agents to have suitable qualifications, including Propertymark and Safeagent, which offer a variety of accredited lettings qualifications. Industry training and qualifications are also available from other sources such as the CIH (Chartered Institute of Housing) and the NRLA (National Residential Landlords Association)

This article is intended as a guide only and does not constitute legal advice. If in doubt seek professional legal advice.

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